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Jacob Steinfield, Assistant Account Executive
May 7, 2020

An acronym soup for breakfast: COVID, WCS, and KPIs

It does not look like our distancing days are going to go anywhere soon, but even when mobility comes back – and we rise dramatically from the couch – consumer relationships with brands will have been transformed.

There's some debate over habit-forming timelines. Conventionally, 21 days was the magic number needed for permanent changes to occur (based on research published in Maxwell Maltz's 1960 bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics), but more contemporary researchers have found the length closer to 66 days. Either way, our COVID journey will certainly surpass both, and we have undoubtedly developed new attitudes and conditions that will remain as the world slides back into normalcy.

This is especially true in consumer expectations for brands as embedded community leaders, given the instantaneous pivot to solemn commitments to employees & customers in response to this emergency. There is a new standard for purpose from these entities: The uncountable statements of “togetherness” and ventures for collective healing will not be allowed to merely dissipate in the post-COVID era (which will not be such a binary distinction either). Learning from those who have delivered effectively and creatively in these conditions (see Light, Coors) will be imperative as consumers are more inclined than ever to use their buying power on companies whose actions and values align with their own – and uncommitted to companies who merely shouted for everyone to remember they existed. As Adweek reports from social psychologist Hillary Haley, “[People] don’t just want to be helped, they want to provide help themselves, and they’ll reward brands that act as facilitators.”

Take Spotify for example. This week, they launched their Music Relief project, with a new Artist Fundraising feature that gives listeners the option to donate to their favorite artist directly or a relief initiative of their choice. Donations will be matched by Spotify up to $10M, and users are given immense freedom to provide much-needed support.

Spotify

During this time, our client Eastern Bank has also successfully delivered on the values of their long-standing Join Us For Good brand campaign. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they have pledged $10 million in aid to those most affected, became founding donors and administrators for the $25 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, and provided pathways for people to join them in giving efforts along the way. The brand has deep roots in local volunteering and service, with this additional leadership making it clear that commitment to their communities is not new or temporary, but endemic to their brand’s DNA. 

Brands & marketers must consequently re-calibrate the levers they use to turn communication and brand identity into desired outcomes.

This brings us to an important consonant jumble: WCS – What Constitutes Success?

Achieving a quantifiable level of success is not a new challenge in the advertising space. The rise of digital marketing made the wide world of impact measurement a much more complicated game. Near infinite opportunities for companies to connect with people, ever-consuming throughout their day, creates a dizzying array of data points to synthesize. No longer is a sales lift or focus group – both limited by bias – the only ways to measure effects. We can see the resonance in real-time with brand recall and changes in buyer habits, and instantly tinker, AB test, and iterate. This can, however, restrict the horizon of our improvement targets in the endless pursuit of immediate incremental benefit. It is important to take a step back from your anchored campaign norms to identify larger potential opportunities, especially as messaging expectations change.  

Customers are less motivated than ever by undiluted sales pitches or vague statements of pandemic camaraderie, growingly conditioned against them, and capable of tuning out through ad blockers and nearby alternative devices. Attention needs to be truly earned, and people react positively and strongly to premises that are relevant, important, and authentic to them – especially when those messages are tied to action beyond the advertising or purely-commercial realm.  

As The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull reports, “[Leadership] vacuums have often been filled by brands that see social issues as an opportunity to connect with customers — especially younger ones, who want to believe that there’s a right way to spend their money.” While it may be challenging in our current circumstances to rationalize, brands are on the right track trying to compel outcomes that benefit society. In fact, consumers have growingly defined brands themselves by their social practices and philanthropic priorities.

Cooperation opportunities are key for marketers to validate brands as forces of communal good, but there is a huge opportunity and need for brands to give more direction in achieving such results. While hope and community belonging are fabulous intentions, the onslaught of purpose-based messaging inundating our timelines and networks with solemn background music often do not give specific, convincing instruction to achieve these goals. This is where marrying commonly-shared desired outcomes to internal metrics of improvement can create business objectives that are sincerely important to the customer – like the aforementioned Coors activation. Coors raised spirits with a unifying metric of donating 500,000 beers, while also focusing on definitive financial impressions by contributing all merchandise profits to COVID relief efforts. 

Cause-based marketing may pose difficult questions for ROI, but we can use our skills in translating data-driven insights to make cause-related messages as productive as our commerce-related ones. 

To do so, marketers must re-define their KPIs – Key Performance Indicators

Good marketers understand that true ROI is based on the lifetime value of your relationship with the customer, and the positive externalities that being in their network entails. To achieve such fruitful relationships, marketing initiatives must find a compelling way to demonstrate not just shared values, but a common purpose, all while facilitating ways to connect the two. Consumers understand that advertising is aimed to drive action, and when that action is one they consider worthy, it creates an association of aligned incentives.

Considering the enormous challenges in global health, environmental protection, and human rights, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be compelled to think favorably of a campaign intentionally designed to improve these worthy outcomes. Converting favorable perception into action can be a difficult task, but brands can ignite such behavior by communicating KPIs that are meaningful to both the company and consumer. 

Conveying a measurable definition of success for your civic engagement program helps alleviate public concern about motives. Non-monetary KPIs can also be constructive, such as donated cans of non-perishables, volunteer hours, or shelters built. These not only create attainable goals, but valuable bonds for the company and consumers to work together toward. 

To build this new type of relationship with customers, brands often partner with philanthropic organizations that have endemic popular trust. It’s a form of assuaging concerns about the integrity of their efforts. However, with hundreds of brands flooding the market with cookie-cutter COVID-19 responses, such partnerships alone cannot galvanize when consumer individuality is not recognized. Advertising is often powerful because it speaks directly to a specific need, but when a sea-of-sameness permeates throughout, that influence dissipates.

Whatmomslove

To break this mold, AMP helped its client GIANT Food Stores launch the national #MoreForAll campaign, aimed to mitigate panic shopping by spreading direct, actionable instructions and driving awareness through digital conversations. Across media platforms, and with influencer help, local individuals instructed followers on ways to extend the life of their produce and urged them to be considerate of their peers. AMP was able to measure overwhelmingly positive sentiment and engagement, the topic clearly resonating with followers, and GIANT was able to see definitive reductions in over-buying.

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 12.10.32 PM

Even when the COVID-19 era subsides, there is a heightened expectation and opportunity for companies to continue to support communities. Large organizations can use their scale and connections to create value beyond their immediate spheres of influence, and engrain themselves positively into the public consciousness. When normalcy returns, brands should look at the successes of these charitable causes moving forward, and see that ROI can be earned and sustained with marketing that optimizes its positive impact on consumers’ daily lives. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Brands are increasingly defined by their conduct as community leaders and responses to social needs
  2. Leading firms are developing stronger relationships with consumers by empowering buyers to make a philanthropic difference with their spending
  3. Cause-marketing is most effective when campaign KPIs are also pertinent to consumer ideals, and messaging clearly illustrates how specific actions by both parties can catalyze an outcome that is mutually rewarding.

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In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for October 2022. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+ (sometimes 100,000+). After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Harvesting Search Queries in October 2022 Autumn 2022 is in full effect across the USA last month and we followed along, recording the top queried keyword phrases each day. Looking at our collection, we see interest in Halloween entertainment options, dreams of big lottery wins, and concerns about tech companies.  With the MLB playoffs, College and Pro Football games, and the NBA season starting up again, we collected a large number of keyword phrases related to sports. Lastly, the two events that best captured the moment in time that was October 2022: McDonalds introduced Happy Meals for adults and a gamer revealed his face. People showed their quest for knowledge of both these things via Google search and the AMP Agency team was there to witness it. The Day of The Dead Doodle We almost got through the whole month without seeing a keyword phrase queried more than 10 million times within a day.  On the last day of October, Google changed its logo and we got our top phrase of the month by query volume: Day of the Dead - 10/31/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries Clicks on the logo sent people to the results page for “Day of the Dead” as a celebration of a holiday  widely observed in Mexico. October 2022 Entertainment Options Thursday the 13th was the day to learn more about the films and TV shows that were made for frights. Halloween Ends - 10/13/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The Watcher - 10/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Michael Myers is back for another installment of the Halloween movie series and home ownership is made scarier when letters arrive in the mail in the Netflix show, The Watcher. Yes, even scarier than the utility bills. Swifties were excited about a new album and Heidi Klum dressed as a worm. Taylor Swift - 10/20/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Heidi Klum - 10/31/2022 - 500,000+ queries Taylor Swift’s Midnights album was released on the 21st and Heidi Klum hosted her first Halloween party since 2019 and was dressed extremely realistically as a human-sized worm. It’s another great sign that things are getting back to a post-pandemic reality.  Powerball Fever In October, they kept drawing numbers and they kept finding no winners. With no winners, the jackpot kept getting larger and so did the search interest. Powerball - 10/25/2022 - 500,000+ queries Powerball - 10/27/2022 - 500,000+ queries Powerball - 10/29/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries There’s definitely a correlation to the size of the jackpot and the number of queries.  When there is a chance to win a billion dollars (or close to it, after taxes), “Powerball” makes the daily top 3 in Google Trends. Two Big Reveals The gaming YouTuber Dream decided to reveal his face after years of concealing it and McDonalds released a Happy Meal made for adults that feature collectables from the streetwear brand, Cactus Plant Flea Market: Dream face - 10/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Cactus Plant Flea Market - 10/3/2022 - 1,000,00+ queries Dream’s face reveal was a big deal.  According to People.com, the video where he showed his face for the first time on YouTube generated over 21.9 million views and 2.5 million likes in less than a day.  Happy Meals for Adults launched with figurines designed in collaboration with CPFM and clearly people were excited to learn more about them. Politics Here and Across The Pond In the US, debates between candidates running for Senate seats drove people to search. Warnock, Walker debate - 10/14/2022 - 200,000+ queries Fetterman - 10/25/2022 - 500,000+ queries We safely predict we’ll see more query volume for keyword phrases related to the midterm elections next month. Stay tuned. Search interest in UK politics continued in October with the appointment of a new Prime Minister. U.K. Prime Minister - 10/19/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Rishi Sunak - 10/23/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries After Liz Truss stepped down from the post, Rishi Sunak officially became the incumbent Prime Minister on October 25th, 2022. October 2022 Tech News There were three notable queries related to tech companies from our collection last month: Amazon Prime Day - 10/10/2022 - 200,000+ queries Meta stock - 10/26/2022 - 500,000+ queries Elon Musk - 10/26/2022 - 500,000+ queries There was another Amazon Prime Day in October 2022 although the search interest related to this one wasn’t as large as the one that occurred during the summer: Maybe one Prime Day per year is enough?   The other two tech-related keyword phrases were a bit more gloomy as Meta released its third quarter earnings on the 26th, which caused the stock of Facebook’s parent company to fall sharply. On the same day, Elon Musk finalized his purchase of Twitter. What will the future hold for either of these properties?  Whatever happens, people will be searching for answers. The Collegiate Gridiron Roundup Sports-related queries took up the majority of our collection from October 2022.  Here are the top college football keyword phrases: Georgia football - 10/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Alabama football - 10/8/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Tennessee football - 10/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Texas Longhorns football - 10/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Alabama football - 10/15/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/22/2022 - 500,000+ queries Since these keyword phrases were all queried on Saturdays, the intent behind them is most definitely game related.  Just The Top NFL Queries If Saturdays are for college football, then Sundays are for the NFL.  And Mondays.  And Thursdays. Dallas Cowboys - 10/2/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Chiefs - 10/2/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Vikings - 10/2/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries 49ers - 10/3/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Tom Brady - 10/4/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Broncos - 10/6/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 10/9/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Bengals - 10/9/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Bears - 10/13/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Cowboys - 10/16/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Broncos - 10/17/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Christian McCaffrey - 10/20/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Saints - 10/20/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 10/23/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Steelers - 10/23/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Patriots - 10/24/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 10/27/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Tom Brady - 10/27/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Buffalo Bills - 10/30/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Eagles - 10/30/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Vikings - 10/30/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries There were more NFL related queries collected last month but we’re only publishing the phrases that were queried more than a million times during a 24 hour period.  This list is long enough! Major League Baseball Is Still Interesting The MLB playoff got a lot of attention from what was reported in Google Trends Aaron Judge - 10/4/2022 - 500,000+ queries Mets - 10/7/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Phillies - 10/7/2022 - 500,000+ queries Astros - 10/11/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Dodgers - 10/11/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Phillies - 10/14/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Yankees - 10/15/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Yankees - 10/16/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Phillies - 10/18/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Padres vs Phillies - 10/21/2022 - 500,000+ queries World Series - 10/28/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Astros - 10/31/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The eventual winner of the World Series will be revealed in our next report - no spoilers! A New NBA Season The 2022-23 season kicked off in October. Before the games started, Draymond Green made headlines for getting into a fight with one of his teammates: Draymond Green - 10/5/2022 - 500,000+ queries Draymond Green - 10/7/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The rest of the NBA-related queries had more to do with games than individual players. NBA - 10/18/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Lakers - 10/18/2022 - 500,000+ queries Suns - 10/19/2022 - 200,000+ queries Lakers - 10/21/2022 - 500,000+ queries The volume of NBA queries will pick up in March 2023 and will continue increasing in interest until the Finals in June. Is European Soccer’s Popularity Apparent To You? Finally, Keywords related to European football matches continue to appear in the top 3 of Google’s daily trends.  Here’s the full list of phrases. Man City vs Man United - 10/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Man City vs Copenhagen - 10/5/2022 - 200,000+ queries Chelsea vs Milan - 10/5/2022 - 200,000+ queries Arsenal vs Liverpool - 10/9/2022 - 500,000+ queries Barcelona vs Inter - 10/12/2022 - 500,000+ queries Rangers vs Liverpool - 10/12/2022 - 200,000+ queries Real Madrid vs Barcelona - 10/15/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Manchester United - 10/19/2022 - 200,000+ queries Chelsea vs Man United - 10/22/2022 - 500,000+ queries The popularity of this non-American sport is quite apparent in search trends. The team at AMP Agency wonders when there will be more domestic coverage of these games.  Perhaps soon is likely the answer. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services.

One of our mantras here at AMP is “Question Everything” - we’re practiced at examining our deeply held assumptions and asking - is there a better way? Still, in 2019, even with a relatively flexible work environment, we assumed that “work” meant the 9-5 in-office grind. We never stopped to ask ourselves… “why? And is this really the best model?” Then 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and out of necessity we realized there could be a different way to work. Sometimes it takes this level of disruption to jolt us out of our most deeply held assumptions.  But the jolt was effective. As other companies assumed a “return to normal” and continuously planned and pushed back office re-opening dates, AMP exited our four national office location leases. Instead of rushing back to “normal” we wanted to ask ourselves: was the old normal actually working for us anyway? And - what could a better way look like?  For us it was a design question, and the brief was to redesign the way we work. Like any design question, there were a wealth of exciting possibilities and major challenges to overcome. And we needed to start with the humans at the center. What did our clients need from us, and what did our employees need to deliver their best work to them?  The answer was not the status quo. Our people told us loud and clear that they did not want to head back into the office full time. Our employees, our clients, and loads of new research were telling us the benefits of the flexibility of remote work (No commuting! Better work/life integration! Higher productivity!). And as our pandemic-induced remote state chugged along, we also discovered some more surprising insights:   Virtual environments can make collaboration better Before 2020, workers were wasting an average of  9 minutes per meeting just setting up tech - that’s 30% of a half hour meeting, wasted. 40% of workers were wasting up to 30 minutes just searching for an open conference room. Conference calls with a mix of remote and in-person attendees left the people dialing in outside of the office at a disadvantage. At AMP, we were facing these types of pain points all the time, collaborating across four offices with clients all over the country. In this model, the tools meant to help us communicate like we were in person were actually making us feel farther away.  But something interesting happened when suddenly everyone was remote. Conference calls died out in favor of video, and these remote meetings acted as a great equalizer. We could all clearly see each other’s faces, no matter where we were zooming in from. Disembodied voices we’d been working across offices with for years became - perhaps paradoxically - more tangible humans. We met their kids, their pets, their roommates. Clients who we previously talked to on the phone and saw in person every few months became regular face-to-face virtual collaborators.  This new type of collaboration unlocked huge benefits. Employees felt more connected to their coworkers in other locations, and the work was thriving. Our client satisfaction metrics went up year over year. We took on global clients and expanded our teams outside of the US. Our business saw growth amidst a period of economic uncertainty. We saw that elements of remote work would be good for our people, our clients, and our business.     Virtual environments have higher intensity Our creativity and collaboration had been unlocked, but we also found the zoom fatigue was real. In the pre-pandemic days, we assumed burnout was directly related to long hours. But a look at our employee’s time-tracking told us that may no longer be the case - even employees not working overtime were feeling the fatigue. It turns out that without those built-in breaks chatting while troubleshooting tech and making coffee in the office kitchen, people’s days working remotely aren’t just more productive, they’re more intensive. With all remote all the time, a 40 hour workweek can start to feel like 50.  If the future of work had remote elements, our new model would need mechanisms in place to prevent burnout.    Career and life phase inform employee needs When the pandemic abated and parents were better able to get reliable school and childcare, AMP parents often preferred remote work. They could have breakfast with their kids without fear of missing the commuter rail. They could pop out to pick up a sick kid without sacrificing hours of their work day. Many, in the middle of their careers, had already built the skills and confidence that could transfer to a new environment. They were thriving in the remote workplace.  But employees at the beginning of their careers were disoriented. They were missing out on the mentorship and guidance you get from observing and interacting with more seasoned co-workers day-to-day, not to mention the camaraderie that comes from early office friendships.  We discovered that people were living in a multitude of personal situations that demanded different work environments in order to thrive.  We needed a model that could provide options for multiple ways of working depending on what employees needed to grow and do their best work.   Our Innovative Approach to Work: AMP Anywhere With these insights, we set out to design a new model based on radical flexibility. We concepted and pressure tested multiple models. And here’s what we’ve launched: a working model we call AMP Anywhere with three core tenets: You can work from anywhere, including from home or in an office – whatever works best for you. Compensation does not depend on or change based on where you live. Even if you’re not near an office location, you’ll have opportunities to collaborate in person on an ongoing basis. Two years after we exited our office leases, our workforce spans across 30+ markets internationally, and we’re reopening smaller flexible spaces in places with high employee concentration -  Boston and New York. This month we rolled out extensive guidelines for communication norms, travel policies, and collaboration opportunities built for a positive, equitable employee experience no matter how you work best, including deep-work focused “Flex Fridays” and events for AMPers to connect in-person with their co-workers across the globe.  Up next: Prototype. Test. Iterate.  We’re not done. We believe this is what the future of work looks like. But we also know that there will be a whole new set of assumptions we develop that we’ll need to break down. Unlike our old working model, the future of work is not static. It’s pliable. It’s evolving. As AMPers, we have a commitment to Question Everything. That means a commitment to continually innovate and improve around the ways we work to make our lives and work truly sing.    Welcome to the future of work. This is our first prototype.  – Greer Pearce, SVP, Brand & Innovation

What is Google’s new update? Google has rolled a new change in the way they present their search results on mobile devices for brand keyword queries. The engine is now prioritizing the site name for brand name queries of a company instead of the contents of the home page’s title tag. For example, before this change, a query of the company name, “rover”, would show the contents of home page’s title tag in Google’s mobile search results: With this change, a query of “rover” on mobile now presents a result with the site name in search results along with the favicon and URL: Currently, site names are available for mobile Google Search results in English, French, Japanese, and German, with more languages to follow in the coming months.   Why is Google using only site names?  Google strives to make it easier for users to find the specific website that is associated with the brand name they are searching for. By using only site names in search results, Google believes it becomes a lot easier to find the specific brand being searched.  These types of keywords are seen as being navigational in nature; that is, a keyword that has the intent of getting a person to the brand’s home page.  This update does not affect results for non-branded or expanded branded keyword queries.  Keeping the company Rover as our example, If one were to search “dog walking” or “rover dog walking”, the title tag’s content will appear as the link text for the home page: How Can You Optimize Your Home Page? Because of this change, AMP Agency recommends brands to add their desired website name using structured data on their site’s home page so it appears properly in Google mobile search results. Specifically, we recommend the use of WebSite schema markup on the home page as depicted in the example below: This implementation allows Google to recognize the “name” property as the site name of the website and provide accurate results on result pages.    The use of structured data is also beneficial for websites with alternate names, like acronyms and shortened names. The Website schema markup allows for these variations to be added to the home page as well.   How can Google understand your site name? Beyond Website schema markup, Google Search does use a number of other sources to determine the site name for a search result including on-page, off-page, and meta data information.   With the addition of schema markup, brands should ensure the headings (H1, H2, etc.), Title Tag, and Open Graph Protocol meta data (og:site_name) are optimized for the same site name.  Keeping up with Google changes are just a part of our SEO Services. Contact us for more information about how we can best position your site for search.